Every day here in Tallahassee, Florida hundreds of people drive by a small lot in the middle of a popular neighborhood. The area now known as Betton Hills was once the home of the Betton Hill Plantation where over a hundred slaves worked. This small lot is now all that remains of the final resting place of many Tallahassee area plantation slaves in what was once probably a much larger graveyard.
Today, the small lot is surrounded by lovely middle-class homes and chic stores. A historical marker tells the story that the souls buried there cannot because of the resting places of the slaves or former slaves are now unmarked.
All over the United States, the final resting place of slaves are forgotten and disrespected still today. The history of slavery is still in our backyard of many Americans. Driving through Atlanta, Georgia you might catch a glimpse of graveyard off to the side of the interstate. What many people do not know is that is also the resting place of plantation slaves once owned by nearby Gilbert Plantation.
Photography credit: Bob Andres
Gilbert Cemetery near I-75 and a Cleveland Avenue exit ramp survived a fight surrounding a DOT project in the 1980s. These burial headstones are more of ceremonial marker than showing the location of actual gravesites. When the planners were building the interstate through the area, the planners cared very little for changing course for the slave cemetery that was getting in the way of its construction. This is just another reminder of the disrespect the slaves continue to get and are forgotten by those that pass by them resting place every day.
While these slave cemeteries are in the hidden away in plain sight. Many other slave graves are harder to find which is why Vanishing History.org has created the Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans. This organization is continuing to preserve the memory of those that were once forgotten in life and death.
But you might be asking “Who cares?” but this is the history of all of us and what makes up the history of our Southern states. Organizations such as Save my Cemetery help draw our attention to our forgotten shared pasts and these sites should be preserved for future generations to remember all aspects of our shared past .
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